According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one of the most common forms of financial fraud is imposter scams. These scams usually begin with a phone call, email, computer pop-up message, or some other out-of-the-blue communication where the other person—the imposter—is asking for money or personal information.
There are many different roles a scammer may try to play. Below are just a few examples of who they might try to impersonate.
- Tech Support: Someone reaches out to you saying that your computer (or online account) has been hacked. They may claim to be from Microsoft, Amazon, or some other well-known company. And in order to fix the problem, they may ask you to provide personal information, download something onto your computer, or send money.
- Government Agency: A scammer might try to convince you that you are in some sort of legal trouble (or owe taxes to the IRS) and pressure you into sending funds.
- Loved One: You might get a call from someone claiming to be a friend or family member who is in some sort of trouble and needs money right away.
What should you look for?
- Urgency. Imposter scams come in many forms, but the goal never changes. They want your money, and they want it quickly. If you are contacted by someone and they are trying to pressure you into making an urgent payment, that is a giant red flag. It is most likely a scam.
- Payment Method. The best way to tell if you are being scammed is to pay attention to how the scammer wants you to pay. If they suggest you pay with a gift card, cryptocurrency, or a payment app (like PayPal, Venmo, etc.), it is most likely a scam. No established business receives payments via these methods. They may also offer to send you an illegitimate check to deposit, and then have you send some (or all) of the money back. These are red flags, too, and they almost always indicate a scam.
What can you do?
If you identify red flags but are still unsure, it can help to get an outside perspective on the situation. Talk to someone you trust—a friend or family member—before you pay anything. You can also call whatever entity the scammer is claiming to represent. Just be sure that you do not use any information (phone number, website, etc.) that they gave you. Find the company’s official, verified website and contact them via the methods listed there.
About the Author:
Blake Dotson is a treasury management specialist at Central National Bank. When he isn’t writing blog articles or fixing check scanners, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, and he loves ALL things Baylor sports.